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1.1.1 Country basics

Name: Republic of Ecuador
Independence: May 24, 1822 (from Spain)
Type of government: Democratic Republic
Area: 256,370 sq. kilometers  (98,984.5 sq. miles)
Population: 13,755,680 million as per July 2007
Capital City: Quito
Official language: Spanish
Currency: U.S. Dollar

The fourth-smallest country in South America, Ecuador is slightly smaller than the state of Nevada.  Ecuador is roughly the size of New Zealand or the state of Colorado and somewhat larger than Great Britain.   It has a length of 714 km N-S and a width of 658 km E-W.  Its name comes from the Spanish word for “equator line” and was originally used by pre-republican foreign scientists reporting their discoveries to their home countries when writing papers and letters “from the land of the equator”.

The capital city, Quito, has 1,600,000 inhabitants, but the biggest city in the country is Guayaquil with 2,200,000 inhabitants. Guayaquil is the most important economic city in the country. Other important cities are Cuenca, Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Machala and Manta.

Ecuador is a Democratic Republic in which the President and other authorities are elected by popular vote for a term of four years.   The population is Mestizo (mixed Native Americans and Caucasians) 65%, Native South Americans 25%, Caucasians (mainly Spanish) 7% and Afro-Ecuadorians 3%.   There are over 40 Native American nations including Quichua, Huaorani, Shuar (Jivaro), Achuar, Cofan, Siona, Secoya, Otavaleño, Tchatchilas (Colorados), Zaparo, Salasacas, Canaris, Saraguro, Chachi and Awa.  Spanish is the official language, but other native languages are spoken, with the Quichua the most widely used.  English is commonly spoken among professionals and tourism providers. The predominant religion is Roman Catholic 95% but other faiths are gaining popularity. The literacy is 92% of the population over 15 years old.

More in this category: 1.1.3 Climate and seasons »

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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.

 

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